Rim country bass fishing pro Mark Kile turned in an impressive sixth-place finish at the CITGO Bassmasters Classic last week on the Louisiana Delta near New Orleans.
For his showing in what is considered the granddaddy of all bass fishing tournaments, Kile pocketed $20,000 in prize money.
"The Classic is the Super Bowl of bass fishing," Kile said.
In addition to his stellar effort in the tournament, Kile was featured on a national television commercial that ran during the final day's weigh-in.
"(The commercial) was for Wade Worms. They are one of my sponsors," Kile said.
The 37-year old Rim country angler, who lives on the H Bar Ranch south of Payson, qualified for the Bassmasters Classic by finishing 12th in the Busch BASS Angler of the Year points standings. He also was named the CITGO Rookie of the Year. For that honor, he received $10,000.
About his healthy pocket of prize money, Kile dead-panned "that's not a bad week of work."
Appearing in only his second Classic, Kile ranked 13th after two days of tournament fishing. For the third and final day, the tournament field of 61 qualifiers was cut to the top 25.
Rising to the challenge of the event, the Yamaha/ Skeeter-sponsored pro weighed in a 12-pound, 1 ounce limit that was his largest single day total of the tournament.
Weeks before the Classic, Kile and fellow fishing pro Clifford Pirch traveled to Louisiana to practice their angling skills in the Delta waters. Kile and Pirch identified one of the biggest challenges of the tournament to be the lengthy boat travel needed to reach prime fishing spots.
"It took us about two hours to get where we wanted to fish," Kile said.
The only other Arizona pro to qualify for the tournament, John Murray, finished 30th overall and earned $5,500.
New Jersey resident Michael Iaconelli won first place, earning him $200,000 in prize money.
Next up for both Kile and Pirch is the U.S. Open bass tournament in September on Lake Mead.
"That one is a little closer to home," Kile said.